Vegan vs. PaleoAfter I published the Paleo and Sustainability post, I found a couple great resources on the benefits of a vegan diet relative to paleo. The Wodcast Podcast is an "irreverent, hilarious take on the crazy world of CrossFit," and they recently interviewed a few vegan crossfitters. You can find the podcast here, or find them on Facebook or iTunes. One of the interviewees, Danette "Dizzle" Rivera, writes a great column on Breaking Muscle.
In a community that has been teased for cult behaviors, the Paleo fixation is arguably CrossFit's most cultish element. (Except for maybe the infatuation with lululemon). Indeed, some CrossFit coaches go as far as to refuse to train vegans. So it's refreshing to see CrossFitters breaking the mold and following a different dietary path, even if it's one I don't agree with.
My sister also forwarded me an excellent article, bringing together some of the strongest minds from the paleo and vegan worlds. Here's the link; the page also has a few great live interviews. After reading the perspectives of IronMan Brendan Brazier, I'm looking forward to reading his vegan nutrition book, Thrive. As Dizzle Rivera said, vegans and paleo dieters have more in common than they may realize.
Insects: The other, other, other white meatMaybe the answer to a paleo-vegan compromise? I read an interesting article in Sierra Club Magazine recently, about how insects are not only healthy, they're highly sustainable. Insects are "high in protein, B vitamins, and minerals like iron and zinc, and they're low in fat. Economical too: A pound of feed produces at least five times more cricket protein than beef protein, and while you can eat only about half of a cow, you can eat almost all of a bug." (I don't know whether this cow "feed" is grass or corn; it's probably the latter. Still, I bet crickets are more economical to produce).
What's more, growing insects requires far less land and water and produces no excrement, drawing far less on our resources.
Many people know that insects are considered a delicacy in parts of the world. But reading the paleo blogs, I've found that, not surprisingly, a significant portion of caveman nutrition may have come from insects. The paleo diet is about health -- not re-enactment -- but if it makes sense on so many other levels, why not?
Here's some further reading, for those interested.
Yogurt - it didn't work for me.As I've mentioned in previous posts, it has been a challenge for me to gain and maintain muscle mass on a paleo diet. It's the same reason people see great weight loss results with paleo -- it's hard to overload on calories when eating naturally-raised meat, healthy fats, and fruits and vegetables. These foods are more satiating than grains and sugary foods, i.e. they make you feel fuller for longer. They also don't mess with your insulin levels, which can cause blood sugar spikes and crashes, and leave you craving more.
I already try and eat starchy carbohydrates (including grains) in the evening with dinner after workouts, when my muscles are most primed to receive the calories. But to further meet my carbohydrate needs, I tried introducing grains in the morning as breakfast. Whether it was Kashi Autumn Wheat cereal, oatmeal, granola, or even quinoa, I felt bloated and gassy after eating. Not the best state to be in at the office. So I tried embarking on a different breakfast path: Yogurt.
There are several paleo gurus who tout raw, fermented dairy as a great nutrition source that is free of the problems associated with regular milk. Chris Kresser, Mark Sisson, and Sebastian Noel maintain this viewpoint. Even Robb Wolf, in an interview with Muscle Mag, said that dairy from grass-fed animals is "kind of a gray area," and could be a useful staple for hard-gainers. Then there's the GOMAD diet (gallon of milk a day), which is proclaimed as the most efficient way to gain mass.
While researching, I discovered that -- due to beneficial bacteria (probiotics) that predigest lactose -- yogurt can often be consumed by people who are otherwise lactose intolerant. But yogurt still offers the calories, protein and growth hormones of regular milk. So I figured I'd give it a shot. Every morning, I had 8 oz of whole milk yogurt with chopped fruit, a couple teaspoons of honey, and a handful of flaxseeds, which gave it a great crunchy "granola" texture. I tried several different styles, including European and Greek, over the course of about 3 weeks.
It didn't work out. Sometimes I was ok for a day or two, but usually by the third day I would have an achy stomach and diarrhea. I would take a couple days off and try it again, and experience the same results.
MAJOR TMI ALERT: Seriously, skip this paragraph if you don't want to be grossed out. Grandma, I'm talking to you! Every time I had yogurt for breakfast, even if I didn't have full-blown stomach pains or diarrhea, I felt like I had to work just a little harder throughout the day to keep my anus shut. With that came the occasional "sharting" false alarm. Luckily I didn't have any non-false alarms, but I realized this was the norm for me before starting paleo and going off dairy. Sorry, biceps, but I'm not going back to that existence for the sake of gaining muscle. Paleo poops are my favorite part of the paleo diet.
So, in conclusion, I have confirmed I'm completely 100% lactose intolerant. I'm happy to bend the paleo rules for legumes and grains, and I do so often. But I'm staying away from dairy in any form. I've replaced the yogurt in the breakfast I mentioned above, with So Delicious cultured coconut milk. This has worked well for me the past month or so, and I'm moving this yummy meal to an after-dinner dessert as I begin another round of intermittent fasting.
Again, though, if you can tolerate yogurt, it could be a beneficial part of your diet routine.
Thanks for reading. More to come soon! ...once it gets too cold to bike, that is.